By Teddy Rydquist
Special to The Oxford Leader
An idea first discussed by co-founders Buck Myre and Scott Claxton roughly midway through December 2021, 42 Strong – the Tate Myre Foundation – has already started making a difference in the lives in over 200 middle and high school students throughout Oxford.
A registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, 42 Strong is wrapping up their responsibilities with the National Mentoring Resource Center’s (NMRC) office in Michigan to become certified in the Quality Mentoring Program.
The organization is doing this by matching mentors, who are 10th through 12th grade students at Oxford High School, with 6th through 9th grade mentee students with a three-year age difference as often as possible, meaning 6th and 7th graders are with sophomores, 8th graders and with juniors, and freshmen are with seniors.
Receiving approximately 220 applicants – split almost perfectly down the middle – for the first edition of their June-May yearlong program, the matching process culminated at the Legacy Center on Sunday, May 22, and the process of how these students were paired together is something special.
Mentees and mentors were paired together partially on the mentees’ preference but were also paired in-part based on their responses to a few application questions. These questions were not based on necessarily having a right or wrong answer, but rather how much “we” thinking showed up in your responses opposed to “me” thinking.
Utilizing the motto “Trust, Love, Build,” putting others first and embracing the team concept are important tenants of 42 Strong and a list of a dozen “Tate’s Traits,” is available on their website, 42StrongTate.org.
Featuring terms such as fun, teachable, hard-worker, and respectful, these Tate’s Traits were selected by a group of Myre’s classmates – both boys and girls.
A team leader, an adult figure in the Oxford area, oversees the relationship between mentor and mentee, seeking to ensure they are in contact on a reasonable basis, maintaining a positive relationship, and demonstrating these Tate’s Traits in their daily lives.
“We’re expecting the mentors to check in with their mentees a minimum of once per week,” Buck Myre shared.
“Whether that’s giving them a call, whether that’s chatting with them on their social media platforms, we expect them to check-in once a week. We expect them to get together with their mentees physically once a month, at least.
“There’s going to be some challenges to that because we can’t be carting mentees around and this stuff has to happen in a public place and none of these mentees are going to be driving, right? So, they can say let’s meet up at Evergreens or Tropical Smoothie and Mom or Dad can drop off the mentee and they can hang out for a bit and get together and chat.”
The entire organization – all 220 mentors and mentees – will get together monthly to check in and hold meetings. They are planning to have a Tillman Scholar from the Pat Tillman Foundation, the former Arizona State Sun Devil and Arizona Cardinal, speak at one of their first meetings.
As referenced above, “Trust, Love, Build” and putting we ahead of me are at the center of everything the organization does.
Pointing to Tate’s postgame interview with The D Zone following the Wildcats’ 38-28 playoff victory over the Clarkston Wolves on October 29, 2021 as an example, Buck Myre shared how this “Trust, Love, Build” motto came to be.